Sixty years ago I could never have imagined that in 2017 I would have the enormous joy of seeing a charismatic and saintly Jesuit brother serve as Pope and the most amazing and influential spiritual leader on the globe. Neither could I anticipate that in the same year, we, as Jesuits, would contritely host a public liturgy expressing our shame and guilt that other Jesuits in the United States had once been slaveholders. All this simply confirms what our delegates at a General Congregation stated about our identity in 1975. Then, they put and answered the question: “What is it to be a Jesuit?” and “It is to know that one is a sinner, yet called to be a companion of Jesus as Ignatius was” (GC 32).
My life bears out this keen sense of being unworthy of that grace and yet blessed beyond measure in having received this call. There is an incomparable gift of the spirituality and brotherhood that invites an ever-deepening intimacy with Jesus and the ceaseless challenge to serve always more faithfully in His and our Father’s kingdom. That shaped my prayer, personal relationships, the efforts to teach and minister as well as “to engage, under the standard of the cross, in the crucial struggle of our time: the struggle for faith and that struggle for justice which it includes” (GC 32).
I am now and will always be grateful, humbled, and joyful for these 60 years.